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YE SHALL KNOW WE TRUTH AND THE TRUTH SHALL MAKE YOU FLEE UT regents show reviewed Corpus Christi, Austin Frank Erwin, Jr., producer, director, and star performer of “The Board of Regents Meeting,” an attraction that recently played a one-day stand at the Emerald Beach Holiday Inn of Corpus Christi, receives a well-earned bravo from this reviewer for his masterful control of the subject matter and the performers in his little drama. The performance as a whole, however, lacked a certian verisimilitude. At times the lines of the play seemed too pat. And some of the bit players muddled their speeches. The plot itself is an old one: The integrity of an academic institution is jeopardized by a powerful politician. The play begins after the chairman of the University of Texas Board of Regents, Erwin himself, has conducted a purge of the administration of UT-Austin in order to solidify his control and make the school safe for mediocrity. The regents have gathered in Corpus to give Erwin and his hand-picked administrators a vote of support by hacking the College of Arts and Sciences, like Gaul, into three parts. It is something of a confusing exercise, since the audience has been led to believe that the purpose of the division of the A&S College was to diminish the power of the dean of that school. Off stage, the dean already has been fired by Erwin; so the audience is left to wonder whether the action of the board in dividing the college is a reaction like closing the barn door after the horse has escaped or whether the 12 The Texas Observer board’s action is significant in its own right. These unanswered questions titillate the audience and add dramatic impact to the play. THE ACTION begins with President ad interim Bryce Jordan’s speech to the regents. Jordan is a musicologist specializing in the piccolo, a vague fellow who follows Erwin’s directions as well as he can. Sometimes referred to derogitorily as the Music Man, the president ad interim speaks in the turgid jargon of the professional educator. He explains that the College of Arts and Sciences, with 15,500 students expected in the fall, is “too large to accomplish the task of higher education. We need new and enriched kinds of repersonalization of the educational process for these 15,500 students,” Jordan says. The proposal that he claims as his own divides Arts and Sciences into three colleges: Humanities with more than 3,000 students, Social and Behavorial Sciences with approximately 5,500 students, Natural Sciences with 6,800 students, And a Division of General and Comparative Studies, an orphan division of undetermined majors and special programs that don’t fit anywhere else. This fourth division will have no budget of its own. It has to rely on the generosity of the other A&S colleges for sustenance. Above the deans of the new colleges, Jordan proposes that a provost for Sciences, Arts, and Letters provide “a high-level advocacy in fiscal matters.” He explains that “the new colleges will give a new emphasis on invididualization and personalization of teaching processes.” A number of minor players appear to praise and condemn the so-called “Jordan plan.” Dr. William Shive, a chemist, becomes rattled when Erwin insists that he speak during the period of time allotted to the proponents of the Jordan plan. Dr. Paul English, acting chairman of the Special Commission of Arts and Sciences, warns that if the regents do not follow the faculty’s urging to preserve the unity of the A&S College, “our university runs the risk of becoming an academic wasteland.” Dr. David DeLaura of the English Department insists that Jordan’s plan probably will “lead to a decline in the quality of liberal arts education at the university in favor of specialization and professionalism.” THE DRAMATIC highlight of the play is provided by Erwin’s foil, Dr. John Silber, the fired dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Silber reads a 25-page statement, which definitely was not written by Erwin. He is the only performer who received the undivided attention of both the regents and the audience. His words are so compelling that excerpts of his speech are reproduced on another page of this journal. Silber’s statement, however, is concerned with logic and the academic and administrative merits of the plan for dividing the college, and Erwin and his board are not interested in these aspects of the situation. They are wrapped up in the dynamics of power. So Silber’s speech is regarded as irrelevant by the regents. Except during Silber’s speech, the audience tended to fight throughout the performance. Their uneasiness was accentuated by the presence of approximately 13 security men, eight from the UT Traffic and Security Division \(the campus cops, some of whom are retired finest, including for a time, the Corpus Chief of Police. They had been invited to the play on the assumption that there would be many students in the audience, but few students actually came all the way to Corpus. So the security men stayed mostly in the background chatting back and forth over their walkie-talkies. Occasionally they asserted themselves, such as when they prevented a well-known member of the Arts and Sciences Council from entering the meeting room for more than an hour. Finally, the woman got word to a friend inside. The friend, State Rep. Frances Farenthold, managed to get the woman seated for the remainder of the performance.